Catheter tip position as a risk factor for thrombosis associated with the use of subcutaneous infusion ports

Support Care Cancer. 2005 May;13(5):325-31. doi: 10.1007/s00520-004-0723-1. Epub 2004 Nov 5.


Aims: The use of subcutaneous infusion ports has become standard practice to provide a long-term venous access in oncological patients. The aim of this retrospective study was to assess the different complications of infusion ports in our population and to identify predisposing factors.

Patients and methods: We reviewed the medical records of 437 patients who were followed at the Oncology/Haematology Department of our hospital. Of these patients, there were 370 (84.4%) with solid tumours and 58 (13.2%) with haematological disease. The position of the catheter tip was evaluated by reviewing the available chest radiographs or phlebographies.

Main results: Analysis of the records showed that 346 patients (79.17%) had no complications. The most common complications after implantation were thrombosis (8.46%), catheter dysfunction (4.8%) and infections (4.4%). Univariate and multivariate analysis showed that catheter tip positioning was the most important predisposing risk factor for thrombosis. Catheter tips positioned in the brachiocephalic vein or in the cranial part of the superior vena cava were associated with a high risk of thrombosis. Other significant risk factors were gender and initial diagnosis. Female patients and patients with lung cancer also had an elevated risk of developing a thrombosis.

Conclusions: Compared to other reports, we noted a higher rate of thrombosis and port dysfunction. Since catheter tip position was a predisposing factor for developing a thrombosis, correct catheter position has to be ensured during placement. Prophylactic antithrombotic treatment might be beneficial in the event of failure to position the catheter correctly.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Belgium
  • Brachiocephalic Veins
  • Catheterization / adverse effects
  • Catheterization / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Thrombosis / etiology*
  • Vena Cava, Superior


  • Antineoplastic Agents